It was a gray and chilly October Monday morning. London had awoken. I walked out of my hotel room, hopped on my Uber, and headed towards RICH MIX in the Shoreditch art district to attend a one week Mind Your Own Business crash course organized by Amy and her staff. After being selected to attend this music event back in July, the moment had finally arrived to meet the fearlessly bold and outspoken woman I had followed for about four years now. Her accomplishing many remarkable benchmarks in a primarily male dominated industry through her incomparable strength and determination were inspiring. As an androgynous male in the business, I knew too well the meaning of working twice as hard for what you truly want in order to be taken seriously in this game. Being raised by many strong, formidable women in my family made me respect all that she’d managed to accomplish through her own will and hard work. Her honest tongue was a breath of fresh air, and I was ready to soak in the knowledge she promised to deliver, and BOY, did she deliver!

I arrived at the location and made my way towards the elevator. My royal blue lips, blue suit jacket, black tights, and 7-inch black platform heels brought color to an otherwise, dull pallet. I lined up for registration where I managed to chat with some folks who, too, had come from other parts of the world. After being provided with my badge, bag, and Virgil designed notebook for the event, I made my way towards the drinks area to fill my blue bamboo cup with coffee. Raising environmental awareness was an issue strongly prioritized in this course as was encouraging and empowering us, the coming generation of music business professionals (artist, managers, producers, promoters, etc…), to hopefully make positive, impactful changes in this world where outdated concepts currently hinder us from reaching our full potentials. It was here where I had my first encounter with the woman. Her short blond hair made her prominent beautiful eyes, strong cheekbones, and luminous, fair skin noticeable. She seemed pleasant, however, a bit guarded, or maybe it was me? After an exchange of a few words, I made my way to the room, found a seat I liked, and sat ready to learn. Class would begin soon.

It’s no secret that most people in the industry try to be politically correct and thus, tread cautiously when discussing delicate subjects. After an hour’s time in, Amy’s unfiltered delivery assured me my investment was well worth the price, and while I had attended several conferences in the past (ASCAP, NAMM, BBC Introducing, etc…), there was something magical in the air when it came to this one. Throughout the course of the week, we managed to discuss topics ranging from branding, sponsorships, marketing, business management, touring, show design, and perhaps one of the more emotionally charged ones- mental health. It was here when the class seemed to experience a breakthrough; heart strings were strummed and while many of the students shed a few tears from the stories shared, we all seemed to bond on a deeper level through one another’s vulnerability. After class concluded on this Tuesday afternoon, we all made our way to the “Red Church” pub where we managed to let our hair down, bring our faith up, and really get to know one another. Laughs, drinks, and conversations ensued. This night was easily one of the many highlights of the trip. It’s here where I came to see that even though we had all come from different walks of life, music had truly brought us to this precise moment in what seemed liked destiny. Our hunger to learn, to carve our own paths, and seek wisdom from someone we all seemed to respect unified us. As we all began to learn from one another, the, once, dying artistic fire within me seemed to, again, spark, and the challenging year that shadowed behind me seemed to fade away as hints of courage, inspiration, and strength awakened. Healing emerged.

Hangovers and all, the next day’s class ensued. Two notable speakers, Colin Tilley and Nicolas Caeyers, discussed the importance of visuals and their creation process. Being that I’m a visual artist myself, I truly found this entertaining. Other guests featured throughout the week included a Spotify representative and a former business manager of Amy’s. The one piece of advice that was shared and immediately comes to mind when it comes to business managers is: “If they have a tan, run!” While a bit complicated, the information he presented was truly valuable. Numbers, percentages, and amounts were shared to help us understand the importance of knowing and appropriately handling one’s business. It was obvious Amy was determined to make this course both informative, and one we’d never forget.

Thursday arrived, and it all seemed to be going by so fast. One week seemed too short of a length of time to spend amongst individuals who were barely getting comfortable with one another. Unfortunately, in a matter of days, we’d all be going our separate ways. Celebration called that afternoon, and so, we maneuvered our way to “BBB” - a local bar. These hangouts were always so refreshing particularly after intense days of learning new material. It was nice to connect with other individuals who equally reciprocated the enthusiasm and positivity one gave off. We all seemed to feel as if we were in a safe zone where we could count with one another’s support. There was nothing but love and positivity amongst our tribe.

The last day had arrived and unfortunately, would be cut short due to Amy having to fly out to take care of business. There was a lingering sadness in the air, but while this was the end of one chapter, excitement to begin putting to work the ideas shared in this course inspired the next. One last gathering was arranged at a nearby pop-up shop of a Dutch clothing brand called the Daily Paper, and while Amy wouldn’t be there to physically join us, she was there in spirit and in our hearts. One last time, we all sang, danced, bonded, drank, and chatted before it all came to an end. We hugged, said our goodbyes, and promised to keep in touch with one another. It was, now, when we’d all have to face the music and do something with what was learned. Time had arrived to set sail; back to reality.

What made this course so phenomenal was how truthful and transparent Amy was. The stories she shared, the vulnerability exposed, and the information presented in an intimate presentation for the students provided a wonderful rollercoaster of emotions which I loved and applauded. It showed passion, drive, and love for a craft too often exploited for the wrong reasons by money hungry corporates. It gave me hope and inspired me to continue doing what I love. It’s as if I got confirmation that I had been doing things right all along, and if I once doubted myself or my path in life, I’m now 10 fold strong and am assured I’m right where I belong. The stars had aligned and had provided me with something I had been hoping for: direction & clarity. It's true: life is a journey, not a destination. And while a part of me selfishly hopes that she doesn’t do another class again so that we’ll be the first and only ones to have had the pleasure of experiencing her first time teaching, it may be a bit unrealistic to try to prevent a brilliant mind from sharing her wisdom with others who find her just as inspiring as those of us who firsthand witnessed her lecture. What started off as a course with 150+ strangers ended up being a course where I met 150+ new comrades who were truly a RICH MIX of energies, experiences, creativity, and positivity. Thank you Amy for your wisdom, energy, and love! To everyone I had the pleasure of meeting, I’m looking forward to seeing you all grow and do phenomenal things! Truth is, we’re just getting started… The fun has just begun and while it's been two weeks since the class ended, the mental digestion of the experience has me feeling nostalgic and thankful for such an amazing blessing. Life has taught me that things that don't have a price usually end up being the most valuable. My gift to you, Amy, are these words I've written which come from my heart and were inspired by the success of events. May you have a wonderful birthday month. And this, folks, is the story of my first experience meeting Amy...

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